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Jay Jackson's Jazz Journeys: Feb. 11th - Feb. 13th, 2016

Man-O-Man, what a great Jazz Journey this week! For starters, I think the H.O.M.E. Thursday Night Jazz Jam is finallly becoming what it was meant to be - a serious home for the growth, development, invention and understanding of Jazz music, how it's performed

and how it's interpreted. From Dennis Mitchltree on tenor sax to Jazz Living Legend Lorraina Marro, the swing started from beat one. Also nice to see Douye out and about, along with James Geralden and the silky voiced Phyllis Causey.

Honestly, the overall quality of the music has gone to another level. For the record, yes, this is a show my company, Jay Jackson Jazz Presents produces... still, good is good. I mean if you're trying to have a very high level date, this is your spot.

Friday February 12th was a night I had been looking forward to for some time. It was the night the Hard Bop Chicks made their debut at Aldabella Custom Winery and Storage. I hadn't heard this band, although I have heard, booked and performed with it's leader, Sabine Pothier, in well over 3 dozen gigs.

We all know her piano skills are top notch and then some. But the sound with Sherry Luchette on bass and Rivkah on drums - seriously tasty. It really is important for all musicians to go to other musician's shows. Hard Bop Chicks take what they do seriously. From the first note, it's tight, together and in tune. Sadly, not a common trait in some circles. Ladies, look for more calls from Jay Jackson Jazz Presents.

Finally, we get to Saturday, night, Feb. 13th, and the ongoing return of Sandra Booker. On this night, at the cozy Squashed Grapes in Ventura, joining her was a top-notch squad of Jazzers; Mitchell Long and Dori Amarillio on guitar; Edwin Livingston on bass and British legend, Colin Bailey on trap.

If I may, there are lots of people who sing Jazz music, but there are relatively few Jazz Singers. Sandra Booker is definitely of the latter. What's the difference? Everything! The Jazz Singer is as much an instrument as the sax, trumpet or even drum. It is not limited to the written note on the page or the traditional way a standard is sung. It is a slave to the moment of creation, inextricably bound to improvisation that allows the listener to experience that very special moment once - and only once. In other words - you have to be there. Recordings can never capture that moment only found in a live Jazz experience of selfless musicians lost under the spell of improvisation, fueled by a frenzied crowd, hoping, expecting and ultimately demanding more. Encore!

For Booker, each verse is an event. One chorus might be straight, the next pure soul, the next as a muted trumpet and the next as a sound-effects scat machine! In these dynamics the Jazz Singer is distinct from a singer who can sing Jazz music. This takes courage, it takes confidence but most of all it takes 'free'.

Was every note perect? No. Were there cracks? Yes. Was every lyric right? No. But this is what makes it so real. Now, don't get me wrong. I love a good singer who can sing Jazz. But there's no 'free' there. It's a great voice singing familiar lyrics. Great Job!

'Free' is earned. You have to fail a hundred times, you have to fly a hundred times. But it's in that free where you find the Jazz Singer - where you find the likes of Sandra Booker.

Altogether, another fine week of Jazz music. Call me fortunate.

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